The presents have been swapped, the cards too. Christmas has met the expectations for some, and for the others, the fantasies of a white Christmas surrounded by happy families weren’t quite fulfilled. However, the Christmas messages, like all true traditions, were there to remind everyone as to the true meaning of that day.
Pope Francis, who since his appointment in March 2013 has focused his papacy on denouncing the ills of consumerism, did not miss the opportunity, in his Christmas Eve message delivered at the Vatican, to castigate the consumerist and hedonistic values pervading society. He urged Catholics to “act soberly” and to “live in a way that is simple, balanced, consistent, capable of seeing and doing what is essential…”
“Our style of life should instead be devout, filled with empathy, compassion and mercy, drawn daily from the wellspring of prayer,” he said.
The head of the Anglican Church, Justin Welby, and the head of the Catholic Church in England, Vincent Nichols, focused their messages on the violence that has spread in the world in the name of religion.
Justin Welby branded the terrorist group, ISIS, a “Herod of today,” while Vincent Nichols urged his congregation and Catholics in England to “lay aside our own tendencies to angry violence so that we may condemn, with integrity, those who perpetrate such violence and claim for it the name of God.”
As for the Queen, she commented on the victory of light over darkness.
“It is true that the world has had to confront moments of darkness this year, but the Gospel of John contains a verse of great hope, often read at Christmas carol services: ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’”
It was however the message of Abdullah Kurdi of the British channel, Channel 4’s alternative Christmas message, that was the most harrowing. Mr. Kurdi lost his 3-year-0old son and his wife earlier this year when they were fleeing the violence in Syria. The image of his son washed up on the beach was shown around the world and brought out the humanity behind the refugee crisis.
“My message is I’d like the whole world to open its doors to Syrians. If a person shuts a door in someone’s face, this is very difficult. When a door is opened they no longer feel humiliated.”
In a world where no day goes by without an act of terrorism being perpetrated, religious leaders and parents like Abdullah Kurdi sought to remind people of the real message of Christmas – “taking care of one another, especially children,” according to Mr. Kurdi.